Off The Wall

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Game Off The Wall
Game Family Hat ball Hat ball
Location Brooklyn, The Bronx
Regions US
Eras Derivative, Post-1900
Invented No

Brooklyn, 1950s:  

The game was often played at a handball court or wall in a schoolyard.

The team that is up throws the ball off the wall.  If it is caught it is an out.  If it lands in foul territory it is an out. (Foul territory is determined by player consensus at the start of the game.)

For each bounce the ball takes it is a base gained.  Four bounces is a home run. Invisible (imaginary) runners.

As a backyard game, the ball can bounce off the garage door, gutter, or slanted roof behind the fielder.  If it hits the gutter and bounces it is an automatic triple. If it bounces of the roof and hits the ground it is an automatic home run.

If you throw the ball high off the first wall you can have the ball hit the roof and bounce all the way back off the first wall, making for a difficult catch.

The "lightening" option -- When the fielder catches the third out, he/she can throw the ball off the wall immediately, catching the new fielder out of fielding position.  An easy way to get a home run.  Lightening has to be called in the beginning of the game.  You can also play that the thrower has to call lightening out loud before the throw.

As a game played in an alley (10 to 12 feet between houses):  The player "at bat" throws the ball against one wall, to a minimum height of 10-15 feet, depending on how tall the players are.  Skills:  [a] throwing the ball off one wall so that it hits the other wall just above the fielder, making for a hard catch, [b] throw the ball so it hits the fielder and rolls away for a home run.

The Bronx, mid-1950s (also called White Wall):

"The west end of 184th street ended at Park Avenue because of the sunken railroad track. There was a fifteen-feet long four-foot high white concrete median erected there to guide cars away from the tracks. This barrier was used for a game called Off-The-Wall. Each corner at the end of 184th street had an open sewer, which we used for bases. There were three bases ... first, third and home only. A square box was painted in the middle of the wall. A 'batter' faced the wall ready to start play. He would slam the ball against the box and run toward the first sewer. The fielder would throw to the first baseman for the out...and the game was under way. That section of Park Avenue, which paralleled the tracks, was still cobblestone surface, so when the ball bounce on the ground it took all sorts of crazy hops and spins. It made for a real interesting game. Kids from other neighborhoods came there to use that wall.

One note to make is that passing traffic constantly interrupted street games. The children were forever alert and ready for the next truck, car or wagon coming up the street."




Brooklyn: Communication from Neil Seldman and Mark Schoenberg.

The Bronx: Gregory Christiano, at


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